tv Book Discussion on Choosing the Hero CSPAN September 4, 2016 6:15pm-7:01pm EDT
party presidential nomination in our revolution. megyn kelly looks back on her life and career and her book settle for more. thomas friedman looks at the speed with which the world is changing and thank you for being late. former u.s. special envoy for middle east peace, george george mitchell outlines his recommendations for peace and not region. look for these titles and bookstores in the coming weeks and months and watch for the authors on the tv. [inaudible conversation] , lot.
[inaudible conversation] >> thank you all for being so patient. i'm bradley graham in behalf of the entire staff think you were coming out on this afternoon. a few quick notes. now would be a good time to turn off your cell phone or things that might go beep. when we get to the q&a part of the session, because we are recording this for youtube channel and c-span book tv, we appreciate that if you have a question you could step up to the microphone here so it can be recorded and heard by everybody else in the audience. at the end, normally for those
of you who have been to our events, we like to ask you to fold up your chairs. don't do that today because we have another event coming up. it's not often that we have a head of state here at politics and prose. in fact it's pretty rare at the moment. she is on her way with an escort so she should be here shortly and we thought we should just get underway. it was just over a decade ago when she became the first woman in modern african history to be elected head of state. she is widely credited with ushering her country into a
state of peace after years of brutal civil war. she was educated in the united states including a masters degree from harvard, she was in and out of her native country several times in her career as a reason result of the political upheavals there. she was minister of finance in 1980 and she went into exile for a few months and turned out to be over years, a series of international development positions with the world bank, citibank and the united nations. returning to liberia in 1985, she ran for a senate seat that after speaking out the military regime she landed in jail. a decade later she ran unsuccessfully for president and again when into exile until the
general election in 2005. she ran a second time for president and one in a runoff. taking charge of the nation shattered by years of civil strife and grappling burdens of widespread poverty. she was reelected in 2007, the same year she shared the nobel peace prize with two other women recognized for their nonviolent struggle, the safety of women and for women's right for full participation her story is told in the new book, "choosing the hero" by k. riva levinson and she is actually here at the moment. k. riva levinson represent liberian interests. her career as a strategist on
international issues began three decades ago after she talked her way into a job at a political public relations firm founded by paul manafort. yes not paul manafort. she told him there's no place in the world she wouldn't go and she's been globetrotting ever since. she's been involved in a number of sensitive projects around the world and much of her work has focused on africa. she weaves her story together with president ellen johnson sirleaf and tells the tale of friendship and achievement by the way also here today is the former president of malawi. [applause]
and liberia's ambassador to the united states. [applause] now please join me in welcoming k. riva levinson. [applause] >> good afternoon. great crowd, thank you for being here. madam president is about five or ten minutes out so we have to be flexible. i'm going to start and stop and we will move that way. i wanted to say it's an honor to be here today introduced by brad ramm and eventually longside madame president with my american family and my liberian family and in the company of so many friends and colleagues who have worked with for nearly two decades and supported the people of liberia and ellen johnson sirleaf. special thanks to my husband
jeff and my daughter kylie and my son andrew. you guys are everything to me. also to my family tarot international and the remarkable team that brought my book to life. there are so many reasons i wanted to write this book, but here today for the sake of time as we are running 30 minutes late, i'm going to focus on three. the first one is that as brad said, i spent nearly three decades traveling the world. i went to some of the most inhospitable places, often times in conflict, somalia, angola, arak and liberia. these were the front lines of history and i bore witness. many of the people i come to know and defend did not live to fight another day. i needed to make sense of it all.
i would my work be judged and by whom. this book helps make sense of it all. second, i wanted the world to know ellen johnson sirleaf who hopefully you will know soon, not as madame president or as the first woman elected to lead an african nation, not as the presidential medal of freedom winner or the nobel laureate but the person underneath all of those titles, underneath all of those accolades. to know her humanity, to meet the grandmother and the mom, the sister the aunts, the friend, the woman who i came to work with in february of 1997 when everything was lined up against her. her own countrymen, the international regional players and even her own family who will
be coming in with her, including her grandchildren had hoped she would relent because they feared for her safety. she was seized with her mission in life, her calling to bring peace to her country liberia she was willing to fight no matter the cost, no matter the consequence. i hope she will be here because i'm going to say that this woman is not perfect, she she makes mistakes, she has regrets that she has been utterly consistent her whole life. it has always been the well-being of the liberian people that she desired most, their future and their promise that she sought to advance. i met ellen johnson sirleaf when she was determined to return home from exile to her native liberia to challenge the rule of warlords. she was looking for someone to
fight for her in washington d.c. i met alan at a time when i doubted almost everything about my life's choices and i think brad shared with you how i started with the political consulting firm back in 1985. it was allen's faith in me that restored my belief in myself. final reason, while the final of three that i'm going to share. there's so many more. i wanted to demystify washington d.c., to draw back the curtain and show how things really get done, to demonstrate the importance of american leadership in the world and what happens when we get it right. to shout out to those like credit for much of liberia's success which is select members of congress and their staff. so timing, is she on her way?
mme. you missed my introduction to the book anyone want to summarize it? i'm going to do a reading now. i will share with you, i wanted to make you cry. i'm going to do a reading from the book. it is the close of the second chapter and then we will ask madame president to come up. so the year is 1996, july and i just met madame president for the first time. she was serving as the un bp for africa as she sat over the entire program and budget for
the african content. i have just met her and this is my thoughts. how did i get here, trying to. [inaudible] on that summer afternoon in new york city in 1996, i had the overwhelming sense of being at a personal crossroads. it is time to stop and examine what i am doing and why. i need to put everything on the table and to undertake a brutally honest look at my life. what, dear friends, had a really made? what lasting good had i done. what would she say if i was standing here before me? i wish with all my heart she was. would she think i was adrift? which he reassure me that all of this is life journey and dynamic humiliating experience and lessons that will be applied with meaning someday. would she think my trial so trivial emma even the decision she had to grapple with in her
lifetime coming from berlin. i am sure of a few things. i know to be right, i know to be good. my husband jeff, my infant daughter kylie, my unshakable belief that there are people in the world dedicated to helping others and i want to be one of them. this, the new thought is just beginning to take thought and grow, ellen johnson sirleaf will make history, she will change the world. i don't know how she will do it, i don't know what it will entail, but i know i want to help her. i want to come along in that journey, i want to work for ellen johnson sirleaf. [applause]
[inaudible conversation] >> wow, good afternoon to all. when reba told me she was going to write a book, my first reaction was, why do you want to do that? she said there's so much to be told and i want to be able to share some of these experiences with the world. all right, go to it. then i got the first draft out of courtesy.
then i called riva and i said are you sure you want to write a book west mark are you sure you want to say the things you are saying? are you sure you want to disclose confidence, but she said this is my story and in the way this is your story and there are lots of things in this road that i have traveled that people ought to no, the the good side, the bad side, the thrills one gets from following this work and also the agony that one faces from time to time when you run into obstacles. she did a little tweaking here and there the little changes here and there in the book is a
wonderful book. it tells a story of riva, some of the daring things that she did, tells the story of courage, the courage to go into uncharted waters and be able to come out of it and succeed and to have your goal accomplished somewhere along the way because of her commitment because to work with me, it tells the story, it tells my story in a way. that to has hills and valleys, the good times and the bad times. it has been a long road. i may say there are quite a few people in this world that have
been on that road with me and i can see many of them in the room that had shared those difficult days and those good days leading us to where we are. i think one has to give a lot of credit to her for doing this book. in the midst of everything she was doing, although the difficult part was over and she could tell a story that ended in success, success with my election and taking on others to help rebuild my country, but still she wanted to be a part of what we are trying to do and
reconstruct our country. she has always been there with us. i sometimes think that riva knows the country as well as i do because she is always prodding in finding out and questioning and talking and sharing with people some of her own ideas. she is truly a part also of liberia and what she has contributed through the support she has given me for us to achieve what we have. to all of you who are here to be able to share in this, i think you ought to read the book. that's the end game, right.
the endgame is to walk up to that shelf and buy a book and read it. i hope each and every one of you in here will participate in that endgame because the effort is not only to write the book but also to share it and have people read it and maybe after reading it, you might want to write your own experiences that could be just as interesting and captivating or you could gain the courage to start the journey of your own. identifying somewhere along the road something that you want to achieve and begin to pursue that , maybe someday you will be able to share your experiences after you've reached the goal that you set up to achieve.
i could recognize quite a few people in this room. joyce comes first and i know she is working hard. we are waiting for that one too. i know that so many of us here that have been part of that and i want to say to all of you, you have contributed to what we have achieved in liberia and it's because you have been there, it's because you have been able, is not directly, maybe it indirectly to the organization and to the support that comes through your own government and so many ways, to the university that we've had an opportunity to
>> guest: and work with them, all of that has made our story a success story that it is. so, i want to thank all of you for being here and being a part of it. i'm sure we will get to the second part and that's when we will really begin to have fun then we will begin to have the interaction and listen to your side of the story, your comments, your views, your questions, sharing with us some of the same kinds of experiences that each of you have had as you forward to carrying on. >> thank you for being here. [applause]
[inaudible conversation] >> i think we will take some questions and if everybody lines up at that microphone right there, but before i take those questions, because madam president was not here for my opening, i just want to take the liberty of reading a paragraph from the afterword of my book what helps people understand what the meaning of the title is. so if you will bear with me it's just a single paragraph and i'm going to read it. working with alan has taught me to follow my heart and not fear being misunderstood. i have come to see that certainty is a luxury and destiny, a journey that reveals itself with time.
it's easy to stray off course, to doubt and lose faith, to seek compromise as surrender and to feel judged and isolated, even abandoned, but there is always something to hold onto, the belief that things will get better. i've come to appreciate that we need people to guide us for which we admire those we believe in, the heroes that we choose. [applause] thank you. so questions? >> madam president is my privilege to be here.
i like the book, before it was even printed and i went through line by line but first let me congratulate you for writing this book. second, may i be allowed to say i was amazed at how the two of you found one another and how you provided support to the president throughout her journey through thick and thin. i know how critical it is for you to have somebody that you can call anytime of the day and anytime of the night, especially if that person is here in america. i want to thank you on her behalf and i want to thank madame president for allowing us to let her see through your journey. the question i had is take us
through iraq. what took you to iraq? you were both there and you asked yourself what am i doing here. this take us through that. that is one chapter that i read again and again trying to understand how you found yourself in the streets in iraq. >> thank you, i think i will take that question. so madame president, thank you for the insulation that you provide. we both, when she was in london, she sent me a text and she said somalia. i totally don't get it. i was laughing the whole time like why is this relevant. then iraq him and she didn't one either, but it's part of my
story so it's part of madame president story through my eyes, but i think i have a couple of friends here from iraq and kind of long story short, i was a state department contractor to the iraqi government. i was hired in 1989 and i thought it would be a really easy assignment, i would go back and forth to the iraqi and they were in exile in london and they were talking about saddam's crime and then 911 happened and george bush happen and then the inc went into baghdad and i thought that was my place, they needed to go and set up their communication operation and so one of the most fun and read keyless chapters of my book, there's so many things that will
stay on the african continent and that was my convoy to baghdad from kuwait city. it's pretty harrowing and at one point our vehicle is stoned. those of you who recall iraqi history, it is where private first class tesco lynch was kidnapped and raped and at that time, i was completely second-guessing my life and i was holding a card from my son andrew and it said mom i love you because you take such good care of me, and i'm thinking i'm not going to be able to do that anymore. i went there because i thought it was my obligation to help them set up the communication project and once i got there after 13 hours it was a remarkable period in history.
that chapter defines that and in his famous quote that he says only times, he said americans, cash, i don't remember it. francis, what is it again? >> it is something like we will eventually do the right thing after trying every other poor option. >> that was iraq. then the library questions came. >> i am a student here in the washington d.c. area. this is one of the most meaningful books that i've read and i mean that with great sincerity. i question is, when do you think
it is particularly important for future generations to take in heart and understand and understand the main message of the book and why. >> do you want to take that? although after. >> be what you want to be. set your course, with it. do not be distracted by whatever you face. stay on course i think that's the best message it will take courage and commitment but if you stay on course you will get to where you want to be. [applause]
>> i wanted to remind people one of her most portable quotes is that if you're dreams don't scare you they are big enough. i think that is probably one of the quotes and i think i would just second that is to persevere and even when you think that everything is just a bad as it can get, just know that there is always an opportunity to reach out and step back up. >> hello, my name is rachel and i've spent the last nine years living in uganda working with journalists and helping them tell the stories but the reason i wanted to come here today is the importance of female role models for young african women
and so many things that keep them from aspiring to reach this level. i would love to have you speak i would love to hear you talk about more mentoring or networks or whatever it will take to have a young african female in our lifetime and even in the children's lifetime to be able to see or aspire to be in the position of you to women. >> you know, i can't say enough. understanding their culture, their tradition, identifying common goals and working together. i can tell you, in this room, i'm going to point out a few people who have done this so
successfully in my own life story. many of them who have been involved in what they have done it be able to bring together particularly young people and talk about a world of people having shared values, a world of being able to work together in unity. i would say to all the young black women, college women, don't just stay in the cocoon of where you are. reach out. maybe be a little bit courageous like riva. do something in some other
place. it may be sacrificial to do that and it may take a lot on your part, but go out. i'm glad you talk about uganda. that's great experience that you had. i wish you would take that experience and share with people in alabama, florida, places where perhaps we are not even able to identify where uganda is or where kenya is. to do some of the things you've done and share your experience. >> it's a great honor to be here if both of you have a view in
terms of the future, if you have the opportunity to be with the new president, what advice give them? i cannot go through the many programs that president obama has with africa, but what advice would you give the new president as to what should be his legacy? >> what advice would you give my presidential choice when in terms of what she will do thank you. >> i have a two word answer. be presidential.
>> i have nothing to add. >> good evening madame president my name is jermaine dunn and i would like to ask the question about current politics in liberia. my question has to do with, i would like to ask madame president for her comments on recent bribery allegations with respect to two people in legislatures and other officials
>> there is a report from an international organization. that report makes certain allegations as you said and we have asked our minister of justice to look into it. they have determined they need to ensure that they follow the rule of law and they have an opportunity and they are innocent until proven guilty until and that's the law. >> i think we have time for one
more question. >> david smith from the guardian i'd like to go back to u.s. politics. they are trying to become the first female president in africa and do you have any advice for hillary clinton trying to be the first female president in the u.s.? >> i think she's on the right road. i think anyone aspiring to be president of the united states needs any particular advice. i think they live in a different environment, they have responsibilities to their constituencies, there are commonalities in the objective of leadership but particularly as we live in a global village these days, i think any of them
aspiring will need to know that the united states is not an island of itself. it has to be able to be a partner. changing global world is very inclusive. i would not be the one to give advice, it would be you. >> i've been asked that question before by someone else and maybe think since i think this is the last question i just want to return back to my afterword and my comment when i was asked me madame was the advice that you gave to me which is follow your heart and do not fear being misunderstood. that was the way i answered that question. i think we are done. [applause]
>> this is an unprecedented level of high visibility right now. there's always a moment, they said this in 1999 and they were's beginning of the idea of the explosion of hip-hop and what does it mean for those particular images and all of these images that are being projected to the world. how are we wrestling with it's a form of oppression and stereotyping and flattening of identities. how can we reconcile all of those things at once and that's a very difficult thing to try to do, to respect one's truth and
no that it's influenced by things that you may not want to be a part of. i think the tension of that hyper visibility is the central american question because of the necessity that blackness is to the american identity. in order it's a system of hierarchy. white supremacy renders blackness as bottom class, it is consistent and blackness is always there. we create new groups to exploit and demonize, we have latinos and muslims and at a different
point, ethnic groups that are now considered white, were also a part of that. italians and irish germans were all exploited classes of people but their escape was the fact that whiteness needed to reproduce itself to form strongholds, political and economic strongholds to be embraced into that fold to and sure that blackness is always at the bottom. there is a need then to flatten those identities and to demonize , to make invisible blackness, the humanity of black people, the different postcards that depict black men being lynched, eating watermelon and
exaggerated features and calling us sleazy and all of these different things are the work of ensuring that the humanity of black people remains invisible but we also need to be seen in terms of slavery, some of us were owned and having servants was a measure of one's worth in society. there's always the actual act of being seen but also having your humanity denied and that's what the concept of visibility is trying to get out. >> you can watch this and other programs online booktv.org. >> this is the tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here's a look at our primetime lineup. starting shortly, former director of the defense intelligent agency, retired member michael flynn provides his remark on how to fight terrorism.
then kate anderson brower highlights the first lady from 1960 until today. rosa brooks looks at the change in how america fights were on book tv "after words" starting at nine eastern at ten, neil bascom chronicles what kept hitler from building and atomic bomb. we wrap up at 1115 with instant university university professor eddie loud and he discusses the mcafee and black. we begin with michael flynn. >> good afternoon, welcome to the heritage foundation and are douglas and sarah allison auditorium. we welcome those who join us online and remind our guests here in the audience that you